Bargaining Update

October 07, 2019 / Heather Nahmias

Tuesday, October 2, your PSU-AAUP bargaining team met with representatives from the PSU administration for a full day of bargaining. This was our seventh full day of bargaining. 

After a total of 52 hours of bargaining, we have some good news, cautious optimism, and some concerns. The good news first.

The subject of economics — university spending and finances — got underway. 

(Note: We will have more information about PSU spending and finances — and a recent surplus! — at our Fall Member Meeting this week, October 10, 12-1. Guest speaker, Howard Bunsis, will break down PSU spending for us. To RSVP and find more information, click here.)

At bargaining on October 2, PSU administration gave an overview of its working 2020 budget, and an overview of the process they use to develop the budget. 

Your PSU-AAUP bargaining team used this meeting as a first opportunity to ask clarifying questions; identified additional financial data that we need to see;  got an initial sense of the implicit priorities in PSU spending; and finally, began to assess if and how faculty shared-governance has played a role in the formulation of PSU spending priorities.

One piece of good news is that we learned that PSU is financially very healthy. This means we have room to prioritize student and faculty needs.

Another piece of good news is that we’ve begun our examination of finances early in the bargaining cycle, allowing ample time to assess where and how university resources and our educational priorities need to be brought into alignment.

An area of concern for your PSU-AAUP bargaining team after October 2 is that our relationship with the PSU management group is showing signs of strain. A lot of our time at bargaining is now going towards addressing relationship issues, and this has come at the expense of working on concrete problems – let alone making progress on them. Notably, very promising initial work on new job families and career tracks for Academic Professional Faculty (we reported on this earlier) has been entirely sidelined for more than a month. AAUP is committed to making sure the matters of career tracks and fair and transparent transitions to new job families for Academic Professionals are resolved during this bargaining session. This issue remains unresolved since 2016, and any more delays are not acceptable.

We communicated to the PSU management team, very directly, our growing concern that when we see hours go by without ever getting to our scheduled bargaining agenda, it starts to become more challenging to sustain the trust which is necessary for the success of the collaborative bargaining path we’ve chosen (known in labor relations as interest-based bargaining). The PSU-AAUP team remains optimistic, if a bit more cautious, and we are genuinely committed to making the investment necessary to sustain a healthy working relationship with PSU administration. We hope to see this commitment matched by the PSU management team.

We will meet with them again on Friday October 11 and if you are able to come support your team in the Engineering Building, Room 310, that would be a welcome show of solidarity. We will be there 9-4. Please RSVP.

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